All of the threads binding the fragile simulacra we define as ‘reality’ were slowly, but consistently, coming undone.
Gone were the gatherings, the warm hugs…
Being able to come and go from your own home without threat of imprisonment.
Being able to discern fact from fiction without concerted effort.
I may have jumped the gun a bit, when I dove headfirst into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories (only ever scratching the surface). I eventually grew out of it, realizing the world was crazy enough without them, upon the incredibly-destabilizing 2016 U.S. presidential election.
But it was only the beginning.
Lately, my thoughts and spirits had been up. I’d been feeling and thinking and being more myself than I had in years.
Nearly a decade, now that I think about it.
As I write this it is midnight, July the first, 2021.
I had a terse reprieve from my ‘demons,’ in the fall of 2013 to spring 2014.
I’d made friends, had girlfriends, and did crazy drugs had crazy parties… Then – in 2014 – I was kicked out of my dorm, and fined for something my roommate had done…
And then my uncle died.
I never really had a childhood. Memories of a broken home, incessant bullying and manipulation by narcissists etched its way into my psyche. It left deep scars, ones I didn’t even feel the pain of until I was in my late teen years. Until I needed my psyche and autonomy more than ever.
Then, after Uncle Dave passed away, just when I needed him most… 2016 happened.
And everything else.
This ‘conspiracy’ thing consumed me.
It was like all of reality, time, existence itself had been entirely and utterly eviscerated, eliminated… erased, and replaced with a world a mere shadow of its predecessor. For all of its outward appearance, it was the same world I was born into.
But I knew, not only from my history researching conspiracies and the power structures encircling the globe, but also from my experiences being manipulated… being bullied… being used. I knew now not to trust ‘anyone’.
In 2019, I died.
I had always had visions, ‘seeing’ things that were impossible. Fractal dimensions and kaleidoscope beings… all a result of my mental illness and the cause of my hospitalizations, of course. Obviously, at the times that these occurred – stumbling upon a self-aware and self-replicating mathematical equation, commonly known as the Golden Ratio, in 2012; and believing I was dead and in hell in 2017 – I was fully convinced of their absolute reality.
Clearly delusions, and ostensibly the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg.
I didn’t realize what was happening, at first. This particular vision did not begin like the others. It started subtly, beginning at the peripheral of my vision. It got closer, and closer, inching ever nearer the center of my view. As it did so, everything I looked away from left a copy of itself as my gaze crawled to the next visual destination.
I began to realize something was wrong.
Terribly, ineffably… wrong.
Not just wrong, though…
Everyone around me at the gathering inquired restlessly as to my condition, pleading with me to drink more water.
But I refused.
Something about it terrified me more than anything else.
The fucking water.
What was in it?
What was in that goddamned water?
Everyone around me became the same person, all pleading, “Drink! Drink the water!”
“Drink the fucking water, Ian!” It screamed.
Police sirens and strobes began to creep in through the trees, which themselves blended with the structures and ‘people-person,’ behind me. Everyone I knew had been erased and replaced by this hideous amalgamation.
My head turned inside out, and a green plant-man with bulging black bug-eyes crawled out and began to pursue me in the other direction, urging me back into my body.
After this… everything began to… go blank.
It was like… the universe itself… was beginning to turn off.
Every time I ‘came back,’ I was in a new place.
The first time I was in the passenger seat of a golf cart.
The second, I was fused to a bio-mechanical roller-coaster orbiting a supermassive black hole accompanied by what I could only describe as ‘post-humans,’ plant-beings similar to the one in my head. They were kind, gently caressing my pulsating green skin and feeding me stars.
The third… I was dead.
For forty-five seconds, my heart had stopped.
But every second was an entire universe unto itself, with its own history and civilization.
Entire empires rose and fell. Planets, galaxies… and beyond, all consumed by a hive of machinery and organisms which themselves fused to become a hyper-dimensional pyramid… with a face.
God’s face was eating itself!
The next morning, I woke up with a chip in my tooth, a hematoma in my left eye, and God knows what else permanent damage I did to myself.
Briar had waited by the golf cart when I said I needed to go home.
"You sure you want to go home," he said he'd asked me. According to him, I said his place was a better idea.
Neither of us had any idea I would need CPR, which Briar was trained in.
"You started yelling at people, entirely unlike yourself, and that's when I brought over the golf cart."
But it wasn’t over.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic struck the entire planet with a fury nobody was prepared for but me.
Pandemonium was already approaching by the summer of that year, with global food shortages hitting early next spring.
Orwellian-style authoritarian regimes rose from the chaos and terror, engaging in war with one another the world over.
And then… the sky trumpets arrived.
They’d already been heard around the world as early as 2019, but the speed… the quantity… was nothing compared to the spring of 2021.
Spheres of strange metallic solids, showers of rotten meat and sideways ‘blade’ lighting akin to the Somerset anomaly but occurring at least once a week at first, before accelerating to an almost daily occurrence.
"Sounds like a bad trip," he'd said the next day.
Although it may be hard to believe, harder still that this is a message from many months ahead of you, this paled in comparison to the horror that would unfold on the ground.
The conspiracy theories? Coronavirus? World War 3? Mere warnings.
We didn’t listen.
I’m beginning to think we’re all dead.
And we’re in hell.